TIME: A year before RENT

PAIRINGS: Mark/Maureen; Benny/Allison

RATING: T for language

NOTES: This is my first RENT fic! I wrote it all today and I'm pretty proud of it. It's not very Christmasy, but it's the first idea for a RENT fic I've had, so I ran with it. Reviewers get Markie Scarfies!

La Vie Bohème




December 24, 1988. Twelve A.M., Eastern Standard Time. I can't sleep, so I'm busting out the camera. I've got nothing else to do. I woke up and tried to go back to sleep, but the heat's not on and Maureen's hogging the blankets, so I was fucking freezing. I got up and searched in vain for some more blankets and/or clothes. Now I'm wide-awake.

I turn the handle on the 16mm and hope that the clicking doesn't wake anyone up. I can barely see anything. What's the damn camera even pointing at? I find a candle, trip over a loose floorboard looking for matches, and crash into the fridge. I let out a royal stream of swear words under my breath, then grope around on top of the fridge for the matches. I find them, light the candle and head back toward the camera. The flame reflects off of my glasses, so I take them off and put them in my coat pocket. I realize that the camera was pointed at the fridge the whole time. Well, later, everyone will get a kick out of watching me run headfirst into the fridge. Benny will make some joke about me denting it with my head. Maureen will give me a hug and ask if I hurt anything.

I start the camera rolling again.

Pan left. This is our apartment. The walls are bare, save for some posters of Roger's old band. The windows are cracked. The floor is bare and nasty. Some of the floorboards are loose. There is nearly no furniture. There are two ratty armchairs, a table, and a foldout piece of shit not worthy of the name "divan." We made sure that we could sleep on most of the furniture we bought.

Pan left. Roger is curled up in one of the chairs, buried under blankets. He's shivering despite them. He's been really down lately. We're trying to help him get off drugs. Poor guy. We're doing all we can to help. I remember when he first really tried to kick the habit. It was a few months ago. He felt sick all that day. He started to feel worse as the day went on. That night, we gave him the foldout couch all to himself. I remember waking up in the middle of the night and hearing moans coming from the couch. I remember seeing Roger lying there, shaking, drenched in sweat. I remember kneeling on the couch, my arms around him, telling him that everything was all right even though it wasn't. He was crying. He's better now, but not much.

Pan left. Benny is sleeping soundly in the other chair, his legs draped over one of the arms. I don't know what's up with him. He keeps flirting with Allison Grey. I don't get it. None of us do. She's cute and all, but her dad's an asshole of a landlord. Benny keeps flirting with Allison, and she returns the favor. I think he's trying to kiss up to Mr. Grey. Get us lower rent or something. But why does he have to do it like that? He's been acting really weird since Collins came out, too.

Pan down. Quiet snores filter out of the heap of blankets covering Collins. He's sleeping on an old mattress that we got practically for free. It's a piece of shit, but it's better than the floor. Collins came out of the closet last month. Roger, Maureen and I thought nothing of it, but Benny… I don't know. He's just acting weird. I've never thought he was a homophobe before, but now I'm not so sure.

Pan up and left. My girlfriend rolls over, burying her face in the corner of the couch. Her long brown hair covers her face. As I film her, I wonder if our relationship is going to last. We really like each other, but she… She just seems to flirt with other guys. A lot. Sometimes I wonder if she really does, or if that's just me being possessive and paranoid. Then I'll be on a date with her and see it… Sometimes it's the way she smiles; the way she talks. Am I being paranoid? Only time will tell, I guess.

I let the film keep rolling as I climb back into the foldout couch, setting my glasses on the arm. Maureen groans and rolls back toward me. I drag some of the blankets over myself, leaving most of them for her. She opens her eyes sleepily.

"Where were you?" she mumbles.

"Just getting some water." I reach out and stroke her hair. "Go back to sleep." I wrap my arms around her and close my eyes. I feel her wrap her arms around me, then cuddle up against my chest, her head nestled under my chin. With my eyes closed, I can hear everything. I still hear Collins snoring. Benny mumbles in his sleep. Roger coughs quietly, then sighs. After a few minutes, I hear the clicking of the camera slow down and finally stop. Maybe, sometime if I can work up the courage, I'll show the footage to Mr. Grey; let him see how we have to live.

Regardes, Monsieur Grey. C'est la vie Bohème.